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Art gallery offers reward after seven pieces stolen

Posted at 10:39 PM, Aug 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-15 01:39:09-04

When a thief or thieves stole from a Valley art gallery, perhaps they didn't realize they were stealing from a veteran.

Phoenix police are now investigating a burglary at the Unexpected Art Gallery, near 7th Avenue & Van Buren. The venue director at the gallery says seven pieces of art, mostly paintings, vanished after a group rented the venue for a party on July 22nd.

"Who walks out into the street with a piece of art under their jacket?" asked venue director Julie Jennings, who wonders how the thief got away. "And nobody notices it?"

Jennings says she has been unable to reach the owner of the company that rented out the venue. Even if insurance were to cover some of the costs, she says the stolen artwork contains original pieces that are irreplaceable.

She estimates the monetary loss at around $3,400.

"Return the art, no questions asked," Jennings said in an appeal to the thief. "We will not come after you, just return the art, in good condition hopefully."

Among the stolen pieces is an 18x24" painting called "King of Diamonds." The artist, Emmett Graham, says he took up painting to help with his MS and PTSD after spending more than a decade in the military.

"It was kind of like surreal in a way," Graham said, describing his reaction to news one of his works was among those taken. "After a couple hours went by then I started getting really angry. I was really upset."

Graham says his stolen painting was priced at $800 and took him roughly two months to paint.

"Because of my MS, there are difficulties that I have in painting, there are days that I have that are good and then there are days that are bad," he said. "By them taking that painting, they basically took the days that I had that were good. That's something I can never get back."

The gallery is raising money through a GoFundMe page. They are also offering a reward for information that leads to the safe return of the stolen art.